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THE SITUATION OF MANUAL ERADICATORS OF ILLEGAL CROPS VICTIM TO LANDMINES Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines Context In the atmosphere

of internal armed conflict which has ravaged Colombia for more than half a century, the use of landmines and other explosive devices by non-governmental armed forces is frequent, especially by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), although they are also known to have been used by the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) until 2006. These illegal groups place mines in areas surrounding their bases and camps, in paths leading to areas of particular importance or in military strategic points, in places designed to protect their arsenals of weapons, medicines or clothing, in the lands and territories of indigenous communities and in areas containing illegal crops1. This criminal practice has left thousands of people dead, injured, mutilated or with serious physical and psychological trauma throughout the whole country. Between 1990 and April of 2011 the Presidential Program for Integral Action against Anti-personal Landmines (PAICMA) had registered 9.257 victims of antipersonnel landmines in around 623 municipalities in Colombia. Of these victims, 3.413, or 36.8%, are civilians, the majority of which are country people or from the rural population. In the current figures to date from 2011, there have already been 58 civilians affected by these artefacts, which clearly highlights the current nature and the seriousness of the situation2. The Program of manual eradication of illegal crops The eradicators of illegal crops are one of the groups most affected by antipersonnel landmines. Lack of employment opportunities, temporary jobs and poverty mean that men of working age accept the work of manual eradication as a means of making money.

INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO BAN LANDMINES. Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor. Colombia 2010, Bogot, International Campaign To Ban Landmines, Colmbian Campaign to Ban Landmines , 2010, pp. 16-19. 2 More information on the PAICMA website: [http://tinyurl.com/3j66jnq].

Municipalities throughout the national territory provide significant work forces for this aforementioned work. This activity is undertaken within the framework of the Presidential Management against Illegal Crops (PCI) of the Presidential Agency for Social Action and International Co-operation (Social Action) and the Mobile Group Program of Eradication (GME) of the Peace Investment Fund (FIP) These programs, established in 2003 and 2004 respectively, have the purpose of supporting the Colombian States fight against illegal drugs, via the implementation of two strategies: voluntary manual eradication and forced manual eradication; and the execution of special projects. The range of their action extends through 15 departments and a significant number of National Parks. In January 2006 the operation Green Colombia was introduced, a massive program which was aimed at the manual eradication of 4.598 hectares of coca plants located in the National Park of La Macarena, in the Meta department, by 930 eradicators grouped in 64 mobile groups. Following an attack with mortars from the FARC, around 630 of them resigned.3 Before the first fortnight had passed, there was an incident with a landmine in which another eradicator died and this resulted in further desertion. By the 30 April of that year, 248 eradicators remained. In the light of this, the President at the time, lvaro Uribe reinforced security, by deploying 1.500 policemen for their protection and offered housing benefits to those eradicators who persisted until the end4. However, in August 2006 a landmine killed six eradicators and injured a further seven; five policemen were also affected. In 2007, in order to secure human resources, Social Action and FIP, upon carrying out a market study, promoted hiring via businesses for obtaining and supplying staff such as the company Empleamos, S.A., which in turn holds, either through verbal or written form, several task or work contracts with the eradicators, made up generally of young rural people in situations of vulnerability and poverty. According to Social Action, the eradication operation consists in the forming of groups of thirty one people, who travel to the plantations of illegal crops, which are duly guarded by the police, in order to
DORA MONTERO CARVAJAL. La erradicacin manual, sin ambiente para continuar, in La Silla Vaca, 1st of December 2010, in: [http://tinyurl.com/425d2s8]. 4 PRESIDENCY OF THE REPUBLIC. El objetivo es irrenunciable: ni una mata de coca en La Macarena, in [http://tinyurl.com/2a36vze]
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manually eradicate all coca or poppy plants that they might find there.5 In the practice, the staff of the company Empleamos, S.A. arrive at the municipalities, and call the meeting, explain the technical and security conditions in which the eradication activities will be carried out and offer contracts which last between 45 and 60 days. They promise the eradicators a monthly salary of approximately $550.000 COP, and carry out the signing up process, which is at least formal, to social security (EPS) and professional risks cover (ARP). The Illegal Crops Program envisages that the eradicators are not natives of the place in which they are eradicating because this puts them in danger and they can be subject to retaliations by non-governmental armed groups. The victims of manual eradication In spite of the fact that the Presidential Program against Illegal Crops has made available safety measures which supposedly guarantee the reduction and prevention of accidents from antipersonnel landmines, we note that eradication work continues to be a very high risk job for the life and security of the Colombians who participate in the program. It is worrying to note that the manual eradication of illegal crops has left behind it hundreds of civilian and military victims throughout the country. From 2005, the year in which massive eradication began, until August 2008, at least 40 people died and another 50 were injured as a result of this activity6. This figure increased as the Program established itself. From 2006 until September 2009, the information system of the Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines registered 119 manual coca plant eradicators as victims of antipersonnel landmines, of which 39 were from the Caldas department7. According to PAICMA, of the 496 civilian victims of landmines registered between 2008 and 2009, 128 were manual coca plant eradicators, from 12 municipalities, 6 of which (Puerto Ass, Valle del Guamuez, Taraz, Anor, Puerto Libertador and Tib) registered
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PRESIDENTIAL AGENCY FOR SOCIAL ACTION & INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION. Justificacin, on the website: [http://tinyurl.com/44olk5o]. 6 EL ESPECTADOR. La faena de arrancar la mata, 25th of August of 2008, in: [http://tinyurl.com/3rf567v]. 7 COLOMBIAN CAMPAIGN TO BAN LANDMINES. Erradicadores: Las vctimas ocultas, in Colombia Sin Minas, No. 17, November of 2009, p. 19.

between 75% and 100% of the adult civilian victims8. This is, without doubt, the most common working activity amongst the landmine victims9. In the year 2010 the number of manual eradicators rose to 3000, grouped into 132 Mobile Groups. In the current figures to date from 2011, 166 victims of antipersonnel landmines have been registered, of which 58 are civilians. It is estimated that at least a third (1/3) of the total of civilian victims are manual eradicators of illegal crops10. Eradicators who are landmine victims are found in Caldas, Bolvar, Norte de Santander Antioquia, Meta Caquet, Cauca, Nario and Putumayo, amongst other departments. Failure to fulfil commitments This program of manual eradication, given the hundreds of landmine victims which it has left behind it throughout the national territory, constitutes a serious failure by the Colombian State to comply with the commitments voluntarily accepted with the passing of international human rights agreements. Violation of article 5 of the Ottawa Convention, which orders that the population be kept distant from minefields. Infraction against International Humanitarian Law through the involvement of the civilian population in the internal armed conflict. The necessary conditions in order to guarantee that the crop fields to be eradicated are free from antipersonnel landmines, do not exist, as a result the life and physical integrity of the eradicators is put at risk. The manual eradication of illegal crops is not considered within the economic activities of the Decree 1607 of 2002.

INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO BAN LANDMINES. Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor. Colombia 2010, cit., pp. 16, 17 y 27. 9 INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO BAN LANDMINES. Landmine Monitor. Colombia 2009, Bogot, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines, 2000, pp. 46, 47 y 77. 10 EL TIEMPO. En Colombia hay casi dos vctimas diarias por minas antipersona, en Justicia, 12th of June 2011, in: [http://tinyurl.com/3rxjzwr].

The affiliation to ARP by people dedicated to this activity is not sustained, therefore the value of the contribution cannot be fixed. The case of affiliations to EPS are presented on the same day of the accident. The lack of social security contributions by Empleamos and other staff businesses prevents the victims from receiving adequate medical attention. Given the legal gap, there are no existing special conditions for prior training for the manual eradicators. The training work that the PAICMA has passed forward to the employees of the Presidential Program against Illegal Crops11 has not been translated into concrete safety conditions for the eradicators. The same PAICMA recognises in the Report of Article 7 of the Ottawa Convention the absence of an appropriate mechanism for the monitoring of this specific group of the population, which means that their situation is not made visible. Called upon to act The Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines and the GTO-14 have been coming forward to denounce, for more than four years, in different scenarios, the difficult situation experienced by the manual eradicators of illegal crops who are victims of antipersonnel landmines throughout the country, both for their uncertain working conditions and the lack of adequate health assistance, and we have called attention to the inconvenience of maintaining a program which has given such negative results. Once more, it has become necessary to make an urgent appeal to the National Government, to PAICMA, the Presidential Program of Illegal Crops, to Social Action, to the Police, the Global Program of Monitoring Illegal Crops of the United Nations, to the controlling bodies and other entities and bodies involved, in order to make the undertaken commitments a reality, via the adoption of methods such as the following:

PRESIDENTIAL PROGRAM FOR INTEGRAL MINE ACTION. Presentation of information in relation to Article 7 on the Convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and of anti personnel landmines and on their destruction, Bogot, PAICMA, April 30th of 2010, p. 37.
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The elimination or change of approach of the Program of Manual Eradication of Illegal Crops which Social Action leads, with the support of the National Government. The control and monitoring of working conditions and the full guarantee of the right to social security for the manual eradicators. Registration and integral health assistance for the manual eradicators of illegal crops who are victims of antipersonnel landmines. The strengthening of mine risk education programs in areas where illegal crops are present and guarded by antipersonnel landmines.
This document expresses the viewpoint of the CCCM in June 2011. It does not involve the opinion of any of its donors or affiliates in the processes which the CCCM puts forward in Colombia.